The attempt at a clarification of the equivocality in the title “Basic Principles of Thinking” gives the impression that this would concern a preliminary and external business. Thought in terms of the issue at stake, however, something else is at play.
The contemplation of the title does not dismantle the given words and concepts into their elements of significance. The lecture discusses the place in which our thinking belongs. In order to recognize this intention clearly and to know it cumulatively [gesammelt], it is advisable now to look back in a unified manner over what was previously gone through, so that the view along the path to the place of thinking might broaden and its obscurity diminish.
Should we risk speaking more pointedly, then it could be said: The sole issue of the lectures is their title. Nothing stands under the title, nothing in the sense of a collection of utterances about a topic. Nothing stands under the title because everything lies therein. The title, therefore, is likewise no title; it is not a heading [Überschrift], but rather a postscript [Nachschrift]. Fraught with all the dubiousness of the written, it writes something out that follows upon our thinking, and this means it would like to come near and nearer to our thinking, in that it attempts to transform what is written back into something heard, and that which is heard, however, into something caught sight of. For only what we have caught sight of do we see, do we preserve as what has been seen (the beautiful). We only know what has been seen, knowing taken in the ancient sense that says: having seen and retaining what was seen, namely as something that continually regards us. What Plato thinks by the word ἰδέα has its origin in such an experience. For thought in a Greek manner, the “idea” is that outward appearance of things from which they regard us, the humans. But we would still not be thinking all of this in a sufficiently Greek manner were we to interpret the relations of outward appearing and regarding [Aussehen und Ansehen] merely optically in terms of the sense of sight. Outward appearance in the sense of ἰδέα is no rigid vision, but rather the wafting of χάρις, of grace. What Hölderlin in an elegy sings of his countrymen hits upon the essence of the Greek relation of humans to the being of beings, as poetized by Plato.